How To Market A Film DVD Online: Free Or Paid Release?
How do you market an independent film / DVD online? Fascinated by a direct email invitation to watch the full version of a new independent full-length self-help movie entitled "The Wheel of Life" (remember "The Secret"? The typology of movie is the same) I have promptly emailed the producer Robert Anthony, to ask for his availability to be interviewed.
Photo credit: norebbo
My initial interest was to find out more about how a movie like this can be produced without being inside the traditional commercial movie system, how much effort and money required and what was the trigger that had pushed this Australian gentleman to spend his lifetime savings to produce such an ambitious project.
But as I interviewed and discussed with Robert Anthony his story, I realized how critical and even more challenging is going to be the marketing and distribution strategy that will be needed to make this DVD into a memorable success.
Today, even if you have a great product, the road to great visibility and viral distribution takes a lot more than just slapping a price on it and finding a few affiliate partners for distribution. Word of mouth, search engine visibility, and possibly a community of raving fans are the key ingredients to get an online in front of the right people in the most effective way.
But how do you that?
In this double-video article, you will see first my interview with Robert Anthony, the producer of the movie, as I get the inside story of why and how the movie was produced. After that I recorded a separate video where I suggest what I see as the ideal marketing strategy for getting a product like Robert Anthony's movie to become an online success.
The Wheel Of Life - Video Interview With Director / Producer Robert Anthony
Full English Text Transcription
Robin Good: Hi everyone here's Robin Good live from Rome, Italy, recorded for most of you who are watching this interview, but still live at this very second, and bridging the oceans across the world for... what is it? Twelve hours time zone difference, Robert? How much do we have?
Robert Anthony: I think it's 11, but yeah, 12. Who wants to argue between friends?
Robin Good: No, I just don't know! But in any case, my friend here next to me is Robert Anthony. We've become friends over the course of the last 48-72 hours because we have tried to make our setups work together. We weren't the luckiest pair this time, and so we've become friends in the process of doing it. But let me introduce officially to you Robert Anthony, who I've invited here today from Australia, because he's the producer-director of a new independent movie.
Robert, would you like to introduce yourself? What is the topic and what kind of movie you have produced recently?
Robert Anthony: The movie is called "The Wheel of Life - What if", and it asks the question to people about what we would do with their lives, if we had a better opportunity.
Robin Good: So, if I understand correctly, and I did watch quite a bit of the movie, which is a full-length feature of about 120', correct?
Robert Anthony: That's right, yes.
What the Movie Is About
Robin Good: The movie really covers all the components of life that, in one way or another, we forget about, we do not give enough fuel as other parts of our life, and so get out of balance.
What Robert has done, he has gone out to reach people who are some kind of real scholars, in different parts of lives, people who have kept asking good questions about why things are one way and not another, and have come up with solutions that have helped many many people.
People who have written books, people who are helping other people, very unique people.
I don't like to use the word "expert", because too many times this word is associated with people who get just some kind of certification from an institution. We've just too many of them, who need to prove in the field that they're good, not because they got some certification from somewhere, or because their father was doing something great and now they're just taking over. Robert has gone out not for those typical experts, but for people who I think really have really garnished on the field something special.
Do you agree with this view Robert, or you think it is too radical?
Robert Anthony: No, I agree entirely. Most of the people come from school of hard knocks not before they got their qualifications. They were people that had been out there and done all the things that they are talking about and then they went and got their qualifications. So, what we found was that in people's lives we had some of the best people around to offer the advice not only because they've done it, but because then they went and got their qualifications.
Now they can talk from authority. and that's what we found. The best part of it doing, was that they just loved it passionately deep, and they want to help people. So Robin, yeah you're right, they were from all walks of life and they just... I can 't explain it, because it was just so exciting.
How It All Started
Robin Good: So, more digestible for everyone who's watching: Robert, do you want to share how did this thing start up? How did it come to you to do a movie, and why did you want to do it on this very topic of improving one's own life?
Robert Anthony: It started off really because of what I was noticing in my work as a management consultant, how people had low self-esteem and they just didn't appreciate themselves.
I started looking into things and I came across an ancient philosophy called the wheel of life, and when we started looking into the wheel of life, we found that it was a tool that had been left around for nearly 3.000 years and we just didn't use it properly anymore.
What I started to look for was a way to get the message out to people, that they can actually use it, and by using it they can get their lives back into balance.
We didn't want it to be something really fancy that people paid a lot of money for. We want to make this available to the world, so we looked for the simplest way to get it out and it turned out to be a DVD.
Then we didn't want to charge a really lot of money for it like some other DVDs that have come out recently, and I leave their name out, but they leave the people without the tools to improve their lives. We believe that this vehicle gives everybody the exact tools to do it. That's a simple daily exercise that they can do, and there's more of the journey to come for those who want to get more involved. But just by looking at this one simple tool, people can make a radical difference to their lives as they find it today.
How Long Did It Take to Get the Movie Out
Robin Good: Good. Tell me now: how much time did it take for you and the people who've helped you to make this project become a reality? Right now people can come to your site and... you want to remember us the URL? Is wheeloflife.tv correct?
Robert Anthony: That's right, yes.
Robin Good: And to get this "Wheel of Life" out there, on the site, and ready for purchase on DVD, how much time did you have to spend from the time you got your first inspiration?
Robert Anthony: It took me about eight years in total, and then once we started making it, we had to bury a few of the original takes and productions because it just wasn't right, and it took another year to get it right. Because it's so important that we reach out to people in the right way.
We didn't want people believing that they had to have a mindset. What we found in all the researches we did for this was that everybody knows, as one of the gentleman on this says: "you put somebody in front of a hamburger with french fries and you put a chicken salad beside them, people know what the better thing is to eat". Because the cravings and other things that happen in their lives, oftentimes we pick the bad things to wait.
What "The Wheel of Life" is about was telling people that inside you know what to do, but you don't always have a friend there to help you. So, we brought this out to be their friend, to help them along, give them something to go back to, so they can get the inspiration, so that they felt better about themselves when they achieved a target, a milestone. To let people know that you're not alone when you make resolutions and you fall over, that we all make new year's resolutions, and how many of us keep them?
So, what is it, a bad about our behavior and about our support system that we need to actually make these things into a reality, and that's what we set out to do, was to show people that they can actually do something if they really want to do, and that we believed in them.
To answer to your question, eight years. And then very hard twelve months.
How the Resources Were Brought Together
Robin Good: Good, and how many people did you have to get involved, and where did you find these people to produce a movie, since you weren't a movie producer or director before. How did you get the whole resources together, where did you find them?
Robert Anthony: It began in Melbourne, Australia, when we first started looking at how... the original idea was to go into corporations and tell corporations that they're undervaluing their main essence, that was the start. We had about five experts that came along that were mostly trainers and neuro-linguistic programmers, a couple of psychologists.
And then when we realized that this thing was a lot bigger, I hate to use the terminology, but the universe provided them, and we had people who came from all over Australia, we had people from Singapore, London, America, New Zealand, and what we found was that they're all experts who were interested in being there for other people, and helping them with their life processes.
Don Tolman for instance, he's an American nutritionist, and it took me 14 months to track him down, and it was just the perseverance too. So, it was a combination of perseverance and the universe providing.
How the Movie Was Financed
Robin Good: That's a great story, and that tells a lot of people how much really you have to insist on something even tough things are not going the right way.
Robert has been there, if we heard correctly, eight years at this project. He has produced a first release, he didn't like it, he didn't think it was good, and went on, shot again, re-edited and maybe even a third time, but he didn't give up on really what he wanted to achieve.
That's what I think is also so great about this story, not just what's inside the DVD, which I think it can be very valuable to many people, but especially the story behind it, which is always what I'm looking for.
My next question Robert is: people would ask immediately how much money did you spend on this, and did you get venture capital to do it? How was your approach to finance such a long and complex project?
Robert Anthony: We used all of our family savings. In total, its cost is nearly a million dollars. Probably by the time we'll finish up when we add up my time, it's something like a bit two and half million dollars. But in the end it was just the passion to get the project out there.
Venture capital thought it was crazy. I had one gentleman that told me I was trying to climb a mountain higher than Everest, and then I gave him the story of a gentleman that climbed it from New Zealand and he didn't have any legs, so Everest cannot be that tall, can it?
Look, I think we created the barriers that stop us from doing things, and in the end we were so determined to get this out and I had the support of my wife and my family. We were so determined to get it out that nothing would stop us, and then we found that people were at the same lines that came along and landed us their savings. It's been a very family-orientated project, and this cost a lot of time, a lot of money, but I think it's going to be very worthwhile.
I believe that the world is going to get the benefit from it. I believe that people of the world will realize that they're better within themselves, once they start to see how simple it is to change the process and the way they feel about themselves, and the way they talk about themselves.
How to Measure "The Wheel of Life" Real Worth
Robin Good: One critical question would then be: how are you going to measure, and given six months or a year from now, what criteria are you going to use to say: "this was a successful project and I'm very proud and happy of it"?
Robert Anthony: I suppose if we're able to brief on the money that it's been lent to us to get this out there. Also... I get a little bit embarrassed about it because we do want to do a lot of philanthropic work. We see that there is a lot to be gained out of this, that there's a lot of work that can be done to help people who want to live differently. We want to set up some nutrition's kitchens, we want to set up some environmental courses, we have made contact with some indigenous groups.
In six months' time Robin I would like to see it be the number one DVD in the world. I would like then to move on to the other projects we have planned like we've got a similar series planned to go into schools for children, because we see the need there... just the way children perceive and talk about themselves, we don't like the fact that they do it in a way that they put themselves down. That little voice in the back of their head that we all have, that automatically says: "I'm not good enough". We want to teach people how to make that voice say "I'm good enough, and I'm better".
And if we can do that with children, imagine how powerful it can be. We can get rid of all the, maybe not get rid of, we can readjust the amount of hatred that goes on in the world, like we are going to look at the Middle East and all the sad things that go on there. And it's adults teaching children how to hate.
If we can do something about that, at a very early age, the word will be a better place for them. And then the dreams and the aspirations that we have with this project, that the DVD is the first part of a bigger, bigger thing, and that as the best the DVD sells, then we can get involved in all of these other things and we can use the profit of the DVD to push things forward.
If you do manage to watch the DVD, the other thing you'll notice is that on the DVD we have some indigenous ladies. The reason that we got them there is because we deliberately sought them out. Because the fact that they understand the lands that they inhabit, whereas I think that too many Europeans have forgotten their ties to the land, and we're trying to rekindle some of that spirit, too. So it's a number of aspects rolled into one. And really is there for humanity, it's not there for anyone person.
I think the power of the Internet is people search for yourself are showing us there is no barriers anymore, we're all one and it's about time we realized that. It is that what the DVD is endeavoring to do.
Robin Good: Thank you Robert, that's fantastic, and this was my brief introduction to the work of Robert Anthony, who's the producer and director of a very unique movie called "The Wheel of Life", you can find out more by going to wheeloflife.tv right now on the Web, and Robert will be very happy to get your feedback, comments, suggestions on anything.
As myself, we're all trying to make the place where we live a better one for everyone.
Thank you Robert for sharing your time today, and look forward to see you reach that... I don't know how many million sales you said, but the most DVD sold on the Internet.
I gave you my strategy yesterday, and I will add it up actually to this interview, so that you'll see what you want to do with it, but best of life to you and congratulations for putting together such a great project.
Robert Anthony: Beautiful Robin, you stay in touch, because I'm going to stay in touch with you!
You have a lovely day! Ciao!
Robin Good: You too, ciao!
How To Market A Film DVD Online - Free Or Paid Release?
Duration: 7' 20''
Full English Text Transcription
"The Wheel of Life"
Robin Good: Here I am, this is Robin Good.
This is an independent movie, not the typical Hollywood-circuit type of thing, and it is a commercial thing because presently you have to pay to get that DVD shipped to your door. But it is a special movie because it talks about self-help improvement reaching your human potential, putting in balance the different parts of your life.
It's not the typical movie plot. Here there are special people sharing their experience, unique people who have invested their lives in trying to improve it and understand what it is that we need to do properly for things to go right.
Basically the idea of "The Wheel of Life" is that there are different components in life that you need to equally serve, attend to, take care of, water like they were living plants. All these aspects, need to be in proper balance and if you just feed some of them and not the others, things are never going to go fully right.
A Winning Marketing Strategy: Word of Mouth
Now, I wanted to spend an extra minute to share with you what I think is the winning marketing strategy for somebody who is in Robert Anthony's position.
He says he has spent, or he and his partners have invested, more than a million dollars to pull this project together over the course of many years. And he said he may spend even more to get it where he wants it to be.
My key suggestion is: here you have an opportunity to really leverage the power of the Internet. Which is to let WOM, word of mouth, work for you and do all of the marketing work that would cost tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars if somebody wanted to do things like traditionally are done for movies, or commercial productions of this kind.
Give For Free Instead of Charging Money
I think that the winning strategy for such a movie is the one of not holding anything, but really giving out fully this movie as a present.
If it's true that this wasn't born as an idea to make more money, and if it is true that this were really things that you wanted share with as many people as possible in the world, independently of the fact that they had, whatever amount of dollars to pay for a DVD, or had a machine to play the DVD on, you just wanted this information to get out to as many people as possible.
My advice is: let that information go, make it fully available, put that two hours on YouTube, on whichever platform is needed. It doesn't matter what's the name, but put it out there in as many places as possible, in full. It may not be the greatest quality, it may not look as good as in the DVD, but that's all perfectly fine, because you want your message to go out there.
And you know what? The beautiful thing that will happen if you do this, is that people will buy your DVD in numbers that are orders of magnitude greater than if you just sold it and promote it with a few clips here and there, a few nice trailers.
People are going to pick up just the trailers and go away with a little insight you share inside the trailers. They're not going to check the DVD because to see the DVD they have to do some effort, they have to pay some money, they have to send you the money, you have to send the DVD and all this. And very very few people will do it. Possibly the people who already know about your work, or are very specifically interested about it for some other reason.
But if you really want to get the highest number of sales out there, you have to listen to what Paulo Coehlo and other big book best-sellers, writers out there, are saying. Which is: it doesn't matter how many free copies are circling out there, or better yet, it actually matters, how many free, pirated copies are out there, because the more there are out there, the more people will buy your original version.
It just happens that if there's the free version, I go look at it, and then I say: "Oh, did you see this movie? Let me send you the link, I would like you to check it out!", and I send it to my best friends and some of them will send it to their best friends.
Sharing May Be The Marketing of the Future
When you like something, you want to reciprocate, you want to give it out as a present to other people, you want to own it in some way so that you feel even more gratified, you want to see it in high quality and invite friends to watch it on the big screen in your living room.
All of this will happen if people can appreciate the beauty that is in the movie. But if you create a beautiful movie, a beautiful something, and you just give little bits of it, and say: "Well, if you want it all, buy it". I don't think is going to work. Unless you've given out already a lot before and people know exactly the type of value you're going to give out in there, or, I don't know, unless you let them see what's out there.
I think that there are enough proofs out there that this can be a winning strategy. I know it's very hard to swallow, I know that many partners are not going to be liking this idea at all, but I needed, as I'm an explorer of how to use new media solutions, with all the limitations and mistakes that I make, I do like to state my own vision on this.
I think the vision for the future, for whoever is in your same position, is to let this thing go out for free, as much as possible, maybe in lower quality than normally would be, and that will do your marketing.
I don't know if you'll do it, but my compliments for you for having created it, and the fact that you're already stopping and listening to this, it's a great reward for me.
All the best for you Robert, and ciao to everyone!
Originally shot and recorded by Robin Good for MasterNewMedia and first published on January 23, 2009 as "How To Market A Film DVD Online: Free Or Paid Release?".
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